UN rights investigator removed from Afghan post after report critical of US

[JURIST] The top UN investigator in Afghanistan, M. Cherif Bassiouni [academic profile], has been released from his post following his issuance Thursday of a report [JURIST report] to the UN Commission on Human Rights [official website] heavily critical of US-led military forces in Afghanistan, alleging that they had made unlawful detentions and had not allowed human rights inspectors into detention and prison facilities to inspect the conditions. Bassiouni's report [PDF text] included the following paragraph about abuse of prisoners and absence of effective prosecution for perpetrators:

The independent expert has received accounts of actions that fall under the internationally accepted definition of torture. For example, a district governor from Paktia province who was assisting the Coalition forces was arrested, gagged, hooded and taken to a base in Urgun, where he was beaten, forced to stand in a stress position for a prolonged period of time, exposed to the cold, and denied food and water. He also reported the torture and sexual abuse of up to 20 other persons. When his identity was confirmed five days later, he was released, although the fate of the other detainees remains unclear. An investigation by the Criminal Investigative Command led to a classified report obtained by a newspaper in the United States that recommends that 28 personnel be prosecuted in connection with the deaths of detainees held by United States forces. However, to date, prosecutions have been limited, raising questions about the interest of United States officials in investigating and prosecuting these cases. The independent expert also expresses serious concerns about the alleged transfer of some prisoners from Guantánamo Bay to Afghanistan as well as the process of informal rendition, whereby detainees are transferred to third-party countries where they are subjected to abuse and torture in clear violation of international human rights and humanitarian law. The Coalition forces’ use of distinct units that answer to different command and control structures is dangerously permeating the Afghan military and security organizations and remains a source of serious human rights violations. In general, the Coalition forces’ practice of placing themselves above and beyond the reach of the law must come to an end.
Bassiouni was told that the UN was phasing out his position; critics allege that his removal is a result of US pressure to curb Bassiouni's mandate over US forces. The UK's Independent has more.

 

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